Awesome Brownies


It’s been so long since I last posted, that I forgot how to start…Um…So I just flew in from New York and boy are my arms tired..Thank you! I’ll be here all week…and remember to tip your waitress.

How was that? It was weird, I know…sorry.

Anyway, to make up for it I present you with these here mighty fine brownies. Brownie recipes are like a dime a dozen, every cook book has at least one, and yet for some reason most people would rather reach for a boxed mix. Why is that? I think it’s partly because most people get lazy in the kitchen, and looks for shortcuts, but I gotta be honest with you, there’s something about the texture of boxed brownies. They’re soft, mushy, and somewhere in between fudge and cake, it’s something magical. So why am I here trying to convince you to make your own home-made brownies? Well, for one, I’m a firm believer that no matter what, it’s always better to make it yourself. I feel that part of what’s wrong with the way we eat, is that “home-made” is more the exception than the rule, but I digress. However, I think the main reason why you should make these is because they taste so much better than the boxed stuff. They’re flavor is so much more complex, they’re chocolaty-er, and plain old tastier than the other stuff, I promise. I dare you to make these, and tell me that they are not better than duncan hines…go on, I dare you.

Ok, now that you’re on board, let’s go.

I got this recipe from America’s Test Kitchen, and one of the things that make this recipe unique is the type of fat used. Fats can pretty much be either saturated or unsaturated. You can imagine a fat molecule like a row in a parking lot, and instead of cars, we’re dealing with hydrogen atoms. When a fat is saturated, every slot is taken, and there are no openings, when a fat is un-saturated, there are open slots for the taking. These open slots in the molecule, causes the molecule to bend in certain ways, and when the molecules line up on top of each other, they don’t really fit well, and therefore they become a liquid. As opposed to saturated fats, when these molecules line up on top of each other, they fit perfectly together, and therefore are solid. So back to our brownies – basically, traditional recipes call for making brownies with more saturated fats (like butter) than unsaturated, but by switching that ratio up, and using more unsaturated fats, the end result is a fudgier, mushier, splendid-er brownie, and let’s be honest, isn’t that what you came here for??

Truth be told, there’s a lot more to talk about in the subject of fats, like the difference between mono and poly unsaturated fats, or the whole trans fat thing, but I can tell you’re thinking to yourself, I’ve been reading this for like 20 minutes already, and we haven’t even started making anything yet?! Get on with it!

All right, start by melting some margarine, and set aside (the original recipe called for butter, but I wanted to keep this parve). In a large mixing bowl, combine dutch process cocoa powder, and instant coffee powder, and pour boiling water over it, and mix to combine.


While the water is still hot, add the chopped up unsweetened chocolate, and whisk until melted.


Then add in the melted margarine, and oil and mix it together. Then add in your eggs, yolks, vanilla, and stir until homogenous, and then add in your sugar, and mix until fully incorporated.


Then add your flour, salt, and bittersweet chocolate, and fold with a rubber spatula, until it just comes together, making sure not to over mix it.


One thing, you know the whole mise en place thing? Having all your ingredients prepared before you start working? Well I never have my act together enough to do that, but in this case I recommend it, especially for the part where we poured the hot water over the cocoa, and then added the chocolate chunks, it will make your life that much less miserable.

Mise en place 

Pour it into a 9 x 13 pan, and bake at 350 until a toothpick comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes. Let cool for at least an hour, embrace your inner fat guy, and shove the brownie into your face by the shovel-full.


For those who were keeping count, there are three different types of chocolates. We have our dutched processed, our unsweetened, and our bittersweet chunks that are like little surprise chocolate bombs hidden throughout the brownie, you won’t find that in those boring boxed mixes, and really this whole thing doesn’t take that long to put together. 

Now because you were good today, and you kept up with my ramblings, and you stuck by my side while I went awol the past few weeks, I’m going to leave you with the best part:



Awesome Brownies

adapted from America’s Test Kitchen


  • 1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant coffee
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate , finely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted margarine (or butter), melted
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups (17 1/2 ounces) sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups (8 3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate , cut into 1/2-inch pieces


  1. Preheat oven to 350, and prepare your 9×13 pan.
  2. Whisk cocoa, instant coffee and boiling water together in large bowl until smooth.
  3. Add unsweetened chocolate and whisk until chocolate is melted.
  4. Whisk in melted margarine and oil. (Mixture may look curdled.)
  5. Add eggs, yolks, and vanilla and continue to whisk until smooth and homogeneous.
  6. Whisk in sugar until fully incorporated.
  7. Add flour and salt and fold with rubber spatula until combined. Fold in bittersweet chocolate pieces.
  8. Pour batter into prepared 9×13 pan, and bake until toothpick comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes.
  9. Allow to cool for an hour, and enjoy.

33 thoughts on “Awesome Brownies

  1. looks great nos, and i’m not such a brownie fan…
    lets go on a mission to always have our ‘mise en place’ ready before we start a biggest downfall in the kitchen is starting a recipe and not having an ingredient..


  2. These were fantastic, one of the best home made brownies Ive ever had, and if I could be very honest i really don’t like most homemade brownies, but that could be because most people don’t know you have to use both saturated and unsaturated fats and 3 types of chocolate! Study done here at Hopkins in cafeteria (not published!) blind test in the cafeteria between homemade brownies and Duncan Heinz and Duncan Heinz was the winner by far!


    1. So it’s interesting, because the episode that I saw these brownies on also had a blind taste test of “regular” home-made brownies vs boxed mixes, and the boxed junk won also, so they changed up the recipe to make the brownie’s texture more like boxed mixes…however they never did a taste test of these brownies vs boxed…so what we have to do is do another blind taste test of these brownies vs boxed and see who wins…any volunteers???


  3. Looks awesome. I love to coffee addition.
    why not add choclate chunks and some coffee to a Duncan Heinz box? While I agree that home made is much better, everyone knows that einsteins theory of relativity excludes DH brownies from the home made – prefab food continuum.


    1. While Einstein’s theory is under a lot of scrutiny nowadays, I don’t think the theory applies to DH…Now I can’t say I’ve turned down brownies in any form, I would say that these brownies are better than DH, without a question…I don’t know what adding coffee and chocolate chunks to the boxed mix would do, but once you’re already boiling water to melt the coffee, you might as well just make the whole thing from scratch…but for scientific’s sake, I think we should add this “re-vamped” boxed brownie to our taste list, and go: Plain Boxed mix vs Boxed mix with coffee and chocolate chunks vs completely home-made and see what people think…again, any volunteers?


  4. Since I am a big believer in homemade, it always used to to irk me when I heard people say that DH brownies are better than homemade. So, I tried the above recipe to see if it replicated the boxed mix. I left out the chocolate chunks because the boxed mix has no chunks. Not so great without the chunks. I was a bissel disappointed with the recipe, but maybe I have to try it again with the chocolate chunks. Did it remind you of the mix, or did it just taste like good brownies? And I wonder what it would do to these brownies to substitute coconut oil for the melted margarine/butter.


    1. It could be I was biased because I made it, and I’m one of those people that always think whatever I make is awesome (hence why I started a blog), but I did feel that the actual brownies, sans chocolate chunks, was a deeper more chocolaty brownie…I felt like it was more flavorful, but I dunno.. It would be interesting to sub coconut oil, which is making a comeback nowadays, and considering it has more saturated fat than butter, might even be able to use less, but the coconut flavor might over power? I don’t know


      1. Okay . . . you’ve sold me! I will take your word for it on the brownie awesomeness and give these a second chance. Coconut oil doesn’t always have that much of a coconut flavor (depends on the brand), but I find that the tropical-ness (is that a word?) of coconut goes well with chocolate (but then again I am a fan of coconut in general).


  5. I dropped the glass jar of coconut oil on the floor, so I ended up using shortening instead, but I did find out that the chocolate chunks really do make a huge difference. I used all Dutch processed cocoa instead of part unsweetened chocolate and part Dutch processed cocoa and I liked that better, too. Plus, I added a tiny little bit of almond extract.

    Mt family was thrilled–although, now that the brownies are gone (inhaled), they have moved on to being happy about the Jet’s win and the Patriot’s loss.


      1. I didn’t substitute the 2 ounces of unsweetened chocolate with an equal weight of cocoa–I converted it to shortening and cocoa as follows: 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate equals 1 ounce shortening (2 Tbl.) plus 1 ounce cocoa (6 Tbl. or 30g.). I didn’t melt the shortening–I mixed it into the dry ingredients (flour, salt, powdered sugar–yes, I changed from the original granulated sugar–coffee powder and cocoa), then I added the water, extracts, oil, and eggs.

        And, wait, you hate the home team? Do you remember the days of the Baltimore Colts?


      2. Oh cool, glad it came out good…how come you went with powdered suger?

        And – I’m a New Yorker born in the 80s, and have only lived down here for 3 years, so I know there was once a team called the Baltimore Colts, but don’t remember them…and for some reason, I just can’t stand the Ravens…It’s like the Giants, don’t know why, but I just can’t stand them, unless they’re playing the Pats


  6. Oh . . . okay . . . I get it.

    I went with powdered sugar because I went to the DH website and saw that is what is in the brownie mix. I think ATK/CI tried powdered sugar and nixed it, but I can’t remember what their reason was. I thought the powdered sugar would dissolve better than granulated and make for a shinier top. Again, CI had a whole explanation for what causes the shiny top in the magazine article that had this recipe, but I can’t remember what they said.


    1. Oh interesting…I actually watched the episode, but didnt read the article…I wasn’t after the shiny top, and using conf sugar is interesting, because it contains an added starch which prevents it from clumping by absorbing moisture and I wonder how the moisture absorbing powers effect the brownies…who would’ve thunk so many variables can effect a simple brownie recipe…ain’t cooking grand??


  7. I like this recipe. I think it’s a good one for my students to look at and figure out why there is no baking soda or baking powder added and why the batter rises.


  8. My guess is you are using specifically Dutch process cocoa which is basic. And your coffee (and even maybe the chocolate a little bit) are acidic. So you will be producing some carbon dioxide to give some volume.


    1. Interesting…although, the Dutched process cocoa adds an alkilating agent to an acidic chocolate, So I’m not sure what the final pH will be, and even with that I don’t know how much CO2 it will produce, and also there really isn’t much gluten formation to form the matrix that can hold the CO2… In regards to the cake there really wasn’t much lift, and whatever lift it did get, I would probably give credit to the eggs, although I’m not sure about that. In general when we whip eggs and add it to a batter, there are air bubbles trapped in there, and those air bubbles expand as the temperature rises, and that’s what gives a souffle or an angel food cake it’s lift, however, as the temperature goes down, the air bubbles will deflate some what, but there will be a net expansion (again, as with souffle and angel food cake)…but it’s really the white’s of the egg that gives the lifting power, and I wouldn’t say there was that much in this recipe, and that’s probably why there wasn’t much lift …now if you wanted more lift in this instance, I would either add more egg whites, but don’t know how that would effect the taste, or you could try adding baking powder…as opposed to baking soda which is straight up alkaline and needs the acidic environment to take effect, and since we said we’re not sure how acidic the end batter would be, I think baking powder would be a better bet)…

      Now *this *would be a cool experiment to do in school…if only we did it when I was in school, I might have liked school that much better…Oh well


      1. I agree! In looking at your browines, they aren’t quite “fluffy”. I do think the coffee does provides enough acid to neutralize the alkaline agent in your cocoa to produce some carbon dioxide, and the consistency would be different if you used regular cocoa. Also, most people don’t want brownines that are light and fluffy but instead a little on the dense side any way so I wouldn’t want to add anything else to give it any more lift.

        Today in lab we extracted pectin from apples and experimented with the role of sugar and acid in making a pectin gel. Next week we’ll play with some alginate and do some spherification. I’m excited!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s